Let’s face it, being ordered to series isn’t even half the battle for a new pilot. The network is not always a good barometer of one’s success, and it is the viewing public who will make or break the future of a pilot. Now, they’re also a fickle sort, but based on this year’s pilots I think we can at least try to guess how the public might react. And thus, as part of the Network Upfronts Extravaganza, I present…
The Top Five 2007/2008 Pilots Likely to be Yanked From the Air Prematurely
5. Pushing Daisies [ABC]
This show will be finding its way onto another list sometime this weekend, but for now it’s also a show which is extremely likely to be yanked from the air prematurely. The show has a whole lot of potential, but if my brother’s initial reaction to it says anything it will have a tough time with the casual crowd. He read the synopsis of the show and was immediately appalled by it. That synopsis:
…an unprecedented blend of romance, crime procedural and high-concept fantasy in a forensic fairytale about a young man with a very special gift. Once upon a time, a mild-mannered boy named Ned realized he could touch dead things and bring them back to life.
Now, after watching the preview, he and I both agree that the show has a whole lot of potential and could be some quirky fun. However, not very many people take the time to really get into it, and I think that many will react as he did As a result, the show’s rather alarming first impression is likely to make it tough for the drama to find an audience. Which, ABC might take as a sign to exit the drama stage left and move a midseason drama in early.
4. The Return of Jezebel James [FOX]
Yes, it’s not arriving until midseason, but this show has some problems. Although Amy Sherman-Palladino brings some pedigree and Lauren Ambrose/Parker Posey bring strong acting, the show has a serious problem: the show is on FOX and it’s aimed at women.
This isn’t its only problem: while ‘Til Death and Back to You each feature established sitcom stars in more male/female split comedies, Palladino has not provided big stars or such splits. It doesn’t fit in perfectly with the comedies around it, and it suffers from one other fairly large concern: when American Idol shifts to one hour, where does the show go? If the show struggles, it’s very easy for FOX to just make American Idol an hour, put ‘Til Death back into its slot post-Back to You, and voila: The End of Jezebel James. That ease makes the show a prime candidate to be prematurely let go by FOX.
3. Life is Wild [The CW]
From The CW’s preview of this South Africa drama, it really is just like a transplanted version of 7th Heaven. The father has a sympathetic job, the kids are a combination of angst-ridden teenagers and cute younger siblings, there’s inter-family tension over the current state of affairs, and there’s romantic interests to be found. So, then it makes sense to put it in 7th Heaven’s timeslot, right?
Wrong. That timeslot, 8pm on Sundays, is a dead zone and always will be. It’s not as if 7th Heaven actually performed well there, instead of slowly dying as it did. The real Family slot was the one they pulled 7th Heaven from last year to transplant their dying comedies: if they had left it there, it could have perhaps done decently this year. The Sunday slot did nothing for 7th Heaven, and is unlikely to do anything for the similarly themed Life is Wild either. As a result, chances are it could be pulled from the schedule quite easily and replaced with another reality repeat.
2. Journeyman [NBC]
This show has a lot going against it, the least of which is its timeslot. No show has been able to pick up on Heroes’ audience, and it’s a tough task for any show. However, NBC thinks they’ve got the right show: Quantum Leap: 2007. Oh, sorry, I meant Journeyman. NBC needs to get it right this time: three shows died in this timeslot last year, and they want to avoid Monday Nights at 10 becoming a dead zone. And, they think that Journeyman is that show.
I think NBC is wrong, and they don’t have the right show at all. Journeyman looks like an incredibly serious drama the way I look at it, one which seems almost sappy in its romance. It reminds me of the Black Donnellys in a way, actually, because it doesn’t seem to have a single stitch of comedy, and always seems to take itself extremely seriously. That is not the Heroes audience. That is the exact opposite of the Heroes audience.
The Bionic Woman was the right show for this timeslot, but we can’t change that fact. I think that NBC will learn its lesson with Journeyman very quickly as it struggles against CSI: Miami, and they immediately move to shift their schedule to try to avoid another trip to the dead zone.
1. Viva Laughlin [CBS]
Tough Sunday Timeslot.
It’s a Musical.
Do I need to say anything more?